Late-stage grammatical change in Chinese: a constructional account
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date30/11/2021
This thesis is a diachronic constructional exploration into late-stage grammatical change, defined as the creation of new grammatical constructions out of pre-existing grammatical ones, in Chinese. It argues that a multidimensional, constructional view on directionality in change, be it early or late stage, has advantages over a linear or unidirectional model, typical of the grammaticalisation approach. Chapters 1–3 lay down the groundwork for subsequent ones. Chapter 1 presents data and methodology. Chapter 2 discusses diachronic construction grammar, particularly the constructionalisation framework by Traugott & Trousdale (2013), and grammaticalisation. Chapter 3 introduces secondary grammaticalisation, which models late-stage grammatical change and assumes unidirectionality (that grammatical development proceeds in a highly contrained fashion) in the tradition of grammaticalisation, and evaluates its status within the constructionalisation framework. Chapters 4–7 constitute the major descriptive and analytical components of this thesis and propose three major generalisations. Chapters 4–5 show that modal and conditional constructions can develop into each other, manifesting bidirectionality rather than unidirectionality, both within and beyond Chinese. A prediction for bidirectionality is proposed: ‘the performative bidirectionality prediction’, which incorporates semanticisation via invited inferencing in the Invited Inferencing Theory of Semantic Change and diachronic construction grammar, and requires no special late-stage process such as secondary grammaticalisation or degrammaticalisation. Chapter 6 models a category change from quantifier to classifier as ‘realignment’, or change in inheritance links from one schema to another. Following realignment, multiple classifier constructions were created, one of which is contentful. Implicating constructions at different levels, the changes cannot be easily accounted for within a unidirectional model. Furthermore, a ‘typology of reinforcement’ in historical linguistics is proposed to predict similar kinds of change. Chapter 7 examines schema loss, using as an example an adverbial adjunct schema with the paraphrase ‘something adverse almost happened’. A ‘prototypicality-based’ account of schema loss is posited, which parallels schema formation and involves different degrees of schematicity. Chapter 8 concludes by proposing that any regularity in language change is to be found in processes of change from a multidimensional, construction-specific perspective.